August 13, 2014 — The Obama administration has notified a federal appeals court that it will release by Aug. 22 a modified accommodation for religious not-for-profits that object to the federal contraceptive coverage rules, Politico's "Pulse" reports (Villacorta, "Pulse," Politico, 8/13).
Under the current accommodation, religiously affiliated not-for-profits can fill out a form that enables a third party to arrange and pay for contraceptive coverage. However, many such organizations argued that filling out the form would itself violate their religious beliefs.
Last month, the administration indicated in a brief filed with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that it would modify the accommodation for religiously affiliated not-for-profits to provide a second option for organizations that object.
Earlier that month, the Supreme Court in a spilt decision granted an injunction to Wheaton College, an evangelical Christian college in Illinois, that prevents the federal government from enforcing the contraceptive coverage rules for the school while the case is pending in the lower courts. The justices said that the college did not have to fill out the form to meet the terms of the injunction, but instead could simply inform HHS that it has religious objections (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/23).
The administration's latest filing -- a status report dated Aug. 8 -- informed the 10th Circuit that the "process [to develop the rules] is proceeding according to schedule, and the Departments expect to issue these interim final rules on or before August 22." According to "Pulse," it is unclear what the changes will be ("Pulse," Politico, 8/13).